Vagally-mediated heart rate variability and indices of well-being: Results of a nationally representative study

Richard P. Sloan*, Emilie Schwarz, Paula S. McKinley, Maxine Weinstein, Gayle Love, Carol Ryff, Daniel Mroczek, Tse Hwei Choo, Seonjoo Lee, Teresa Seeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: High frequency (HF) heart rate variability (HRV) has long been accepted as an index of cardiac vagal control. Recent studies report relationships between HF-HRV and indices of positive and negative affect, personality traits and well-being but these studies generally are based on small and selective samples. Method: These relationships were examined using data from 967 participants in the second Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS II) study. Participants completed survey questionnaires on well-being and affect. HF-HRV was measured at rest. A hierarchical series of regression analyses examined relationships between these various indices and HF-HRV before and after adjustment for relevant demographic and biomedical factors. Results: Significant inverse relationships were found only between indices of negative affect and HF-HRV. Relationships between indices of psychological and hedonic well-being and positive affect failed to reach significance. Conclusions: These findings raise questions about relationships between cardiac parasympathetic modulation, emotion regulation, and indices of well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Cardiac parasympathetic regulation
  • Emotion regulation
  • Heart rate variability
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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